Rep. Huffman Introduces Fishing Economy Improvement Act

April 21, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), ranking member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans, has introduced the Fishing Economy Improvement Act, which reauthorizes and improves the primary law governing marine fisheries management in United States federal waters. Huffman is the lead cosponsor of the Fishing Economy Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands).

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, first enacted in 1976, is commonly credited with restoring critically-damaged and overfished fisheries on the verge of collapse. Most recently, the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act (which reauthorized the bill through fiscal year 2013) mandated annual catch limits in management plans and required fishery managers to end overfishing within two years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently published its annual Status of Stocks report, noting that the number of stocks listed as subject to overfishing or overfished continues to decline and is at an all-time low, thanks in part to the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act. The new Fishing Economy Improvement Act will help build on the Magnuson-Stevens legacy by improving fisheries data collection and management.

Ensuring the good health of the environment and the sustained success of our economy are not mutually-exclusive goals, but rather go hand in hand,” Huffman said. The fishing industry since the passage of the Magnuson-Stevens Act is a great example. The Fishing Economy Improvement Act will help improve the management and sustainability of U.S. fish stocks, helping local economies up and down the North Coast and around the country that rely on healthy fisheries and a strong fishing industry.”

Specifically, the Fishing Economy Improvement Act would:

  • Improve fisheries data collection through the use of electronic monitoring and overhaul how the government manages this data;
  • Improve management of highly migratory species and shared stocks;
  • Increase transparency and public participation in the fishery management process
  • Acknowledge artisanal fishing interests – tribal communities as well as small and local fishing practices – in fishery management plans;
  • Prioritize cooperative research and allow for outside funding to support research;
  • Create a regulatory framework for marine aquaculture so that it does not proceed without strong environmental safeguards;
  • Support fishermen to move out of unstainable fisheries into more sustainable ones;
  • Recognize the potential need for a fisheries disaster declaration in light of California’s drought.